In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, The Baltic Freedom Way makes its NYC Premiere following a screening of the short film Baltic Way, followed by a panel discussion in the second evening of The New York Baltic Film Festival. On August 23, 1989 over 2 million people stood together in human chain linking the three capitals of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius to peacefully call for their independence from the Soviet Union.
The Baltic Freedom Way /Baltijas brīvības ceļš
Friday, November 8, 5:00 p.m.
NYC Premiere. 52 min. In Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian with English subtitles.
Directed by Askolds Saulītis (Latvia, 2014)
The most prominent example of Baltic solidarity and cooperation in the history of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, The Baltic Way was an event in which almost 2 million people joined hands to form a live chain from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. Taking place on the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1989, the event also marked a step closer to the restoration of independence for all three countries, as the Soviet Union neared the brink of collapse.
The Baltic Freedom Way chronicles the history of Baltic cooperation, which dates back to the proclamations of independence from each of the three states in 1918, up to the chain of events behind the peaceful protest 30 years ago. It also explores the history of that cooperation up to contemporary times — the great social, economic, and political changes of the 1990’s, and the re-integration into European political, social, and cultural spaces. Weaving in memories of the past as well as contemporary victories, The Baltic Freedom Way shows both the cooperation and the competition between these three countries. It is a portrait of three sisters, in the free world and on the free market, who have remained side-by-side in both good times and in hardships.
Askolds Saulītis (b.1966) is a prolific Latvian filmmaker. His filmography includes several documentary mini-series, such as History Cracks (2019), and Latvian State History (2018); as well as many documentary features including The Song Power (2018), Eight Stars (2017), The Baltic Freedom Way (2014), The Path to Freedom (2013), Carnikava Stories (2012), For Liberty and Fatherland. Bermontiad 1919 (2009), Nazis and Blondes (2009), Debt to Afghanistan (2008), The Anatomy of National Holiday (Winner: Best Editing at Lielais Kristaps – 2005), Keep Smiling! (Winner: Best Script, Best Music, Audience Award at Lielais Kristaps, Interfilm Prize at Arsenāls festival – 2004), The Spring of Youth (Winner: Best Documentary Director at Lielais Kristaps – 2001), The Red and the Brown (Winner: Best Documentary Director at Lielais Kristaps – 1999). He is also the maker of short films including The Training (2012), Tristan and Isolde (1999), Clara & Rubinstein (1999), The Rape of Europe (Winner: Audience Award at Lielais Kristaps – 1999) and Who Lives in Komunalka (Winner: Audience Award at Lielais Kristaps – 1993). Saulītis is currently working on the feature documentary Under One Flag.
Baltic Way /Baltijos kelias
10 minutes. In Lithuanian with English subtitles.
Born during a wave of spiritual and political euphoria at the time of the Baltic Way, this film shows how Lithuanians joined Estonians and Latvians in forming a human chain in a peaceful protest for independence. The documentary poetically captures great excitement, but also reverence and sadness, in a moving portrait. A result of cooperation between two important Lithuanian filmmakers, Arūnas Matelis and Audrius Stonys, the combination of Matelis’ observations and Stonys’ meditative rhythm stresses the social significance of the event. Lithuania, 1989.
About the Directors
Arūnas Matelis is a Lithuanian film director and producer. His documentaries have received awards in festivals such as IDFA, Leipzig, ZagrebDox, Oberhausen, Documenta Madrid, and many more. Arūnas is one of the few European film directors to receive a Directors’ Guild of America (DGA) award for Outstanding Directorial achievement, for Before Flying Back to the Earth. His latest documentary film, Wonderful Losers: A Different World, received 14 international awards, including the main prizes at Warsaw FF, Minsk Listapad FF, and Trieste FF.
Audrius Stonys is a globally acclaimed Lithuanian documentary filmmaker. In 1992 he was awarded a Felix Award from the European Film Academy for his documentary Earth of the Blind, and in 2002 he received the Lithuanian National Prize of Culture and Arts. Stonys’ documentary Ramin, which was created in collaboration with VFS films, was the Lithuanian nomination for the Oscar in 2012.
Q & A panel discussion will follow the screening with the participants in the 1989 event.
Part of The Second Annual New York Baltic Film Festival, November 7 — 10, 2019.